Here is a list of 99 coping skills that will help you manage your difficult emotions each time.
Adaptive vs. Maladaptive Coping Styles
Coping is the process of managing or tolerating negative events or situations.
People differ in the way in which they cope with challenging situations. Some face challenges with resilience and hope, while others give up and succumb to their despair.
Research has identified four main coping styles:
- passive coping,
- active coping, and
Overcontrol and passive coping are maladaptive coping styles, while active coping and surrender are adaptive coping styles.
Maladaptive Coping Styles
People who overcontrol find it difficult to accept that their personal control in any situation can be limited.
They may start obsessively thinking and trying to “figure it out.”
2. Passive Coping
People who are passive in their coping underestimate how much personal control they have in a given situation.
They often deny personal responsibility and relinquish the control of their reaction to situations.
Examples of passive coping strategies include:
- complaining to others
- avoiding challenging activities; or
- relying on self-medication or addictions to cope with difficult emotions.
Adaptive Coping Styles
3. Active Coping
People who engage in active coping take direct action to deal with a challenging situation or reduce its effects.
Active coping strategies include:
- Changing the situation
- Changing one’s thoughts about the situation (e.g., reframing the meaning of the problem)
In some situations, the best way to cope can be to let go of control and surrender.
Simply accepting that there is only so much you can do in certain situation can help you cope better.
The key here is to determine the amount of personal control you have in a given situation and act accordingly.
Example of situations where control can be counterproductive may include:
- Trying to get rid of obsessive thoughts
- Trying to fall asleep
99 Coping Skills List
1. Emotional Coping Skills
1. Allow yourself to cry
2. Allow yourself to feel and express all of your feelings safely
3. Empower yourself through learning and psychoeducation
4. Find things that make you laugh
5. Give yourself affirmations, praise yourself
6. Identify comforting activities, objects, people, relationships, places and seek them out
7. Intentionally schedule “me time” on your calendar
8. Light scented candles, oils or incense
9. Listen to the radio
10. Look at pictures of loved ones
11. Make a playlist of upbeat songs
12. Make time for self-reflection
13. Play video games
14. See a therapist regularly or during times of high stress
15. Seek out peer support
16. Start a gratitude journal
17. Take a moment to express gratitude
18. Try some adult coloring as a form of anxiety and/or stress release
19. Try some mindful exercises to help bring you into the present moment
20. Watch a funny movie
21. Write things you like about yourself
2. Intellectual Coping Skills
22. Do arts and crafts
23. Do jigsaw puzzles
24. Hobbies (stamp collect, model build, etc.)
25. Listen to a podcast
26. Listen to an audiobook
27. Listen to classical music
28. Play musical instruments
29. Read your favorite book
30. Research a topic of interest
31. Re-watch a favorite movie
32. Sketch, paint
33. Soak in the bathtub
34. Take photographs
35. Watch TV, videos
36. Write (e.g. poems, articles, blog, books)
37. Write in your journal
3. Physical Coping Skills
38. Change your hair color
39. Cook your favorite dish or meal
40. Do some stretching exercises
41. Do yoga, tai chi, or Pilates, or take classes to learn
42. Drink more water
43. Eat chocolate
45. Get a massage
46. Go borrow a friend’s dog and take it to the park
47. Go dancing
48. Go for a bike ride
49. Go for a drive in your car
50. Go for a swim
51. Go get a haircut
52. Go out and spend 10 minutes under the sun
53. Go out for something to eat
54. Go shopping
55. Go to a spa
56. Go to bed early
57. Go to the beach
58. Go to the zoo or aquarium
59. Have a warm drink
60. Jump on a trampoline
61. Lift weights
62. Sleep or take a nap
63. Take a walk
64. Take time off when needed
65. Do the dishes
66. Mow the lawn
67. Organize your work space
68. Organize your wardrobe
69. Repair things around the house
70. Upcycle or creatively reuse old items
71. Wash your car
72. Walk barefoot on soft grass
4. Social Coping Skills
73. Ask for help
74. Avoid toxic people
75. Call a trusted friend or family member
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76. Give your pet a bath
77. Go online to chat
78. Go out and visit a friend
79. Have a video call with someone who lives far away
80. Hold hands
81. Intentionally reconnect with someone you’ve lost touch with
82. Join a support group
83. Spend an evening with good friends
84. Take children places
5. Spiritual Coping Skills
85. Bake something to share with others (e.g. family, neighbours, friends, work colleagues)
86. Do 5 minutes of calm deep breath
87. Do a 10-minute body scan technique to check in with each part of your body
88. Do something nice for someone in secret
89. Donate blood
90. Donate money to a charity of your choosing
91. Express gratitude
92. Give positive feedback about something
93. Go to your church, mosque, synagogue, temple, or other place of worship
94. Identify what is meaningful to you
95. Make time for meditation in your day
96. Memorialize loved ones who have passed on
98. Read inspirational literature
99. Volunteer at an animal shelter
Get FREE Coping Thoughts Worksheets PDF
Get FREE Coping Skills List PDF
- Field, T., McCabe, P. M., & Schneiderman, N. (1985). Stress and coping. Erlbaum.
- Strentz, T., & Auerbach, S. M. (1988). Adjustment to the stress of simulated captivity: Effects of emotion-focused versus problem-focused preparation on hostages differing in locus of control. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 652-660.
- Vitaliano, P. P., DeWolfe, D. J., Maiuro, R. D., Russo, J., &Katon, W. (1990). Appraised changeability of a stressor as a modifier of the relationship between coping and depression: A test of the hypothesis of fit. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 582-592.
- Zeidner, M., &Endler, N. S. (1995). Handbook of coping: Theory, research, applications. John Wiley & Sons.